Graffiti. How do we perceive artistic talent splayed upon city walls and bus stops? Is it graffiti or art and messages in time?
The Mural Arts Program reaches out to graffiti artists to redirect their artistic energies from destructive energy to making constructive or artistic mural painting. Founded in 1984 as a component of the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network, the organization hired Jane Golden to help them move the program forward.
Ms. Golden was excited by the project and quickly discovered the great talent that graffitis artists had. What Ms. Golden created was a way to take that raw artistic energy and use it for mural-making. Murals can add color and beauty to inner-cities and build self-esteem among the community and certainly within the artists themselves.
The murals they created instantly added color, beauty, and life to an old, industrial city struggling with decades of economic distress and population loss. The results of the program were nothing less than magical.
An advantage of the Mural Arts Program is that by channeling often angry graffiti energy into artistic mural-making, these young men and women artists have a way to express themselves, become a part of the local community and help keep these potential at-risk-youth from going to prison.
Since it’s inception, the Mural Arts Program has created over 3,000 murals gracing the city of Philadelphia and earning the city the title of “City of Murals.” not only have these murals added beauty to the city, this type of artistic expression is a way for the community to tell their collective and individual stories, pass down culture and tradition and is a way to empower local leaders.
The Mural Arts Program also offers educational programs in local prisons and correctional facilities where adult men and women inmates can earn stipends to help create murals for schools and community centers throughout Philadelphia. In addition, the Mural Arts Program offers select opportunities for inmates that are recently released to become part of their re-entry program. Individuals that are part of the Mural Arts Programs learn valuable skills such as taking personal responsibility, teamwork, and creative problem-solving.
One of Ms. Golden’s main thoughts and philosophies of the Mural Arts Program is that : Art Saves Lives. She strongly believes that if organizations like the Mural Arts Program team up with community, that healing in the city and community equals healing in the individual.
If you would like to purchase a beautiful book on the Philadelphia Murals, you can shop for them here.
If you would like more information on becoming a teaching artist or becoming a student, please read more here.